Latest Entries
Music

324: George Lewis

Celebrated as a performer and composer, this Columbia professor is particularly noted for his computer music that draws on artificial intelligence. So is the computer a tool for making sound or a tool for thinking? Neither. “It’s actually a tool for investigating subjectivity.” A conversation made possible by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Continue reading »

Nonfiction

323: David Sedaris

Even his setups are funny, like this: “There was a taxidermy kiwi at a store in London.” Or this: “Everybody in the family convinced the youngest child that if she was naked, she was invisible.” Funny, a bit cruel, and entirely delightful. His new book, The Best of Me, will beor perhaps has been published the … Continue reading »

Television

322: Jeff Greenfield

For decades, he has provided astute political commentary with an admirable knack for seeing contemporary events in historic perspective. During our conversation, he prudently contextualized some of his observations, “when this nightmare is over,” referring either to the coronavirus or to the current administration (circa 2020), but which one? Listen. Continue reading »

Nonfiction / Television

321: Merrill Markoe

The greatest gift to any humorist is a parent who is impossible to please. This writer, a co-creator of Late Night With David Letterman, describes a note in her mother’s copy of David Copperfield. “It said, ‘Not one of his best works. I was disappointed.’ If she was giving Dickens a hard time, what did I think that I was going to get?” … Continue reading »

Theater

320: Rebecca Luker

This celebrated Broadway actor–-The Secret Garden, The Music Man, Mary Poppins–-much admired for her glorious voice, sees parallels between cooking and theater. Both are ephemeral. A recipe is akin to a script: neither is the thing itself; each provides instructions for creating the thing. None of this contradicts audience etiquette: no eating during the performance, … Continue reading »

Music

319: David Byrne

His work with Talking Heads lofted him to the empyrean, and he just kept going, making art, music, movies, books. He’s been particularly fortunate in his collaborators – Brian Eno, Robert Wilson, Twyla Tharp.  Spike Lee filmed his Broadway show, American Utopia, which streams on HBO this month. Clearly, one of the silliest things F. Scott Fitzgerald … Continue reading »

Theater

318: Dominique Morisseau

She is the author of The Detroit Project, a three-play cycle, and the Broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud–The Life and Times of the Temptations, another kind of Detroit story. Even at its most ferocious, her work is suffused with love. “Love is not approval or agreement or acquiescence. Love is challenge, love is provocation, agitation, and pushing us toward … Continue reading »

Theater

317: Julie Taymor

She directed and designed costumes for the stage version of The Lion King, seen by 90 million people in 100 cities, attributing its success, in part, to its use of puppets. “I actually think people are often more touched by a puppet’s gesture than a human’s.” Make up your own Trump/Putin joke. Continue reading »

Fiction

316: Tom Perrotta

When  the admired writer — Election, Little Children, The Leftovers — was off at college, he got some unsettling news from his beloved cousin Mike: “He was a really talented indie rocker, but he ended up with a bunch of his friends playing in a wedding band.” This became the basis for The Wishbones, whose protagonist believes such bands emit … Continue reading »

Theater

315: André De Shields

This fine performer — Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Wiz, Hadestown — notes that Shakespeare has much to say about our times, including “Macbeth is seen as a great killing machine,” alluding to the virus, the police, or the president. We find the metaphors we need. Our first episode made with Broadway on Demand, the video version can be seen – seen! … Continue reading »